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Social Networks and Inter-Systemic Decision-Making

  • Charles R. Dechert
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 5)

Abstract

The conception of social groupings as self-regulating systems that perceive, decide and act analogous to electro-mechanical cybernetic systems at one level and to organisms at another, has provided the contemporary social sciences with one of their most valuable conceptual instruments. Applied to organizational analysis it facilitated the systematic study of groups’ internal structure and operations and their interactions with other groups [1]. It was soon clear that not only the organs of government but the state itself could fruitfully be analyzed as self-regulating systems. The patent inadequacies of organismic theories of the state could be avoided, yet the integrated and coordinated purposeful and functionally differentiated activities of vast numbers of persons in a dynamically adjustive and adaptive national community could be conceptualized without destroying the individual person’s identity and essential autonomy, or the identity and autonomy of intermediate groupings [2].

Keywords

Interpersonal Relation World Community Conspiracy Theory Invisible College Functional Subsystem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References and Notes

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    James G. Miller, “Living Systems: Basic Concepts,” “Living Systems: Structure and Process,” “Living Systems: Cross-Level Hypotheses” in Behavioral Science (10, 3 and 4) 1965, pp. 193–237, 337–411Google Scholar
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    In analyzing interpersonal relations as a communications matrix permitting one-way flows of information, we are in a far better position to understand the pervasive influence of the media. John Chancellor of NBC News does have a relation, albeit one way, with each of his tens of millions of viewers and in forming their picture of the world influences to some degree each of the social systems to which they belong. Consensus becomes created as to what is and is not a relevant or significant issue. More and more adjustive and adaptive responses relate to perceptions induced by the media rather than the individual’s, or his social group’s, autonomous perceptions of the reality to which they must adjust and adapt. The information environment, the symbolic environment, becomes as real or more real than nature. Within limits and in the short run acceptance of the images may count more for social acceptability and effectiveness than a grasp of reality.Google Scholar
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    A vast political science literature has arisen around the controversy “elite” vs “democratic” (or “pluralist”) theory. See Robert Golembiesky et al, A Methodological Primer for Political Scientists, Chicago: Rand McNally, 1969, Chap. 6. Thomas R. Dye takes the common sense position that social roles provide unequal access to resources and decision-making regarding their use and seeks to identify overt leadership in the corporate, governmental, civic and informational spheres in Who’s Running America, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1977. See also Thomas R. Dye, Eugene De Clercq and John Pickering, “Concentrations, Specialization, and Interlocking among Institutional Elites,” Social Science Quarterly, June 1973, pp. 8–28. Efforts to identify relatively unknown “influentials” or “masterminds” are perennially attractive as a popular and artistic exercise (e.g. Fritz Lang’s film, Dr. Mabusé) and have produced a few serious works and a mass of paranoid “hate literature” or juvenile disquisitions on freemasonaries, international bankers, mafiosi and secret intelligence agencies which discourages serious efforts to examine the possibilities of intersystemic programming. As Simmel points out secret societies developed pari passu with the rise of the modern centralized state and often replaced corporate, guild and other intermediate organizations conceived as threatening unitary state power, op.cit. Part Four. Such recent works as David Kahn, The Code Breakers, New York: New American Library, 1973; William Stevenson, A Man Called Intrepid; The Secret War, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1976; F.W. Winterbottom, Ultra Secret, New York: Dell, 1975; John Masterman, The Double-System, New York: Avon, 1972, cast considerable light on the role of communications intelligence and structuring a communications environment in such a way as to elicit desired organizational responses from both friend (see Stevenson) and foe (see Winterbottom).Google Scholar
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    Herman Kahn in The Next 200 Years (New York: Morrow, 1976) describes contemporary society in organizational terms, “…a society and culture…whose major activity is ‘games with and against organizations,’ and which is characterized by a structural society which emphasizes organizational and professional pluralism in the distribution of power and prestige.” He foresees a quaternary society that is more personalistic, “…people playing games with and against themselves, with and against others, and with and against communities.” (p. 22). See William T. Powers, Behavior: The Control of Perception, Chicago: Aldine, 1973, esp, Chap. 17. See also, however, Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics and Gnosticism, Chicago: Regnery, 1968, for consideration of the hybris implicit in human efforts to control complex events through recondite knowledge (gnosis). Google Scholar
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    See Dye, op.cit., Who’s Running America, pp. 47ss. Peter Backrach and Elihu Bergman, Power and Choice, Lexingon: Heath, 1973.Google Scholar
  19. 15.
    “Apparently, the solution to the autonomy-cooperation dilemma lies in nurturing multiple identifications, Personal autonomy need not conflict with devotion to family, with identification with community, with a culture, with humanity, or with nature. In addition to these ‘concentric’ identifications, ‘cross-identifications’ should be nurtured, that is, with like-minded persons or communities far removed on other dimensions. The Quarterly, June 1973, pp. 8–28. Efforts to identify relatively unknown “influentials” or “masterminds” are perennially attractive as a popular and artistic exercise (e.g. Fritz Lang’s film, Dr. Mabusé) and have produced a few serious works and a mass of paranoid “hate literature” or juvenile disquisitions on freemasonaries, international bankers, mafiosi and secret intelligence agencies which discourages serious efforts to examine the possibilities of intersystemic programming. As Simmel points out secret societies developed pari passu with the rise of the modern centralized state and often replaced corporate, guild and other intermediate organizations conceived as threatening unitary state power, op.cit. Part Four. Such recent works as David Kahn, The Code Breakers, New York: New American Library, 1973; William Stevenson, A Man Called Intrepid; The Secret War, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1976; F.W. Winterbottom, Ultra Secret, New York: Dell, 1975; John Masterman, The Double-System, New York: Avon, 1972, cast considerable light on the role of communications intelligence and structuring a communications environment in such a way as to elicit desired organizational responses from both friend (see Stevenson) and foe (see Winterbottom).Google Scholar
  20. 16.
    Washington Post, June 26, 1977, pp. F 1, 4–5.Google Scholar
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    Constantine Fitzgibbons, Secret Intelligence in the 20th Century, New York: Stein & Day, 1976, p. 332.Google Scholar
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    With reference to self-organization in scientific networks, see Diana Crane, “Transnational Networks in Basic Science,” in Keohance and Nye (eds.), op.cit., pp. 235–251;Google Scholar
  23. 18a.
    Charles R. Dechert, “Science Policy and the Scientists: The Social Allocation of Human Resources in Organized Science.” Proceedings, International Science Foundation Conference, Chania. Crete, 1971. For a more general consideration of self-organization see Gordon Pask, op.cit.;Google Scholar
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  25. 18c.
    Yovits and Cameron (eds.), Self-Organizing Systems, New York: Pergamon, 1960.Google Scholar
  26. 18d.
    Two recent publications—especially germane to this discussion are Samuel Leinhardt (ed.), Social Networks, New York: Academic Press, 1977,Google Scholar
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    E.O. Laumann and F.U. Pappi, Networks of Collective Action, New York: Academic Press, 1976.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles R. Dechert
    • 1
  1. 1.The Catholic University of AmericaWashington, D. C.USA

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